Tar-like substance under pickguard

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bammill, Jan 20, 2013.


  1. bammill

    bammill

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    Jan 20, 2013
    I have a '74 Precision I bought new. I just noticed a black, tar-like substance oozing from under the pickguard. The location is under the strings. After removing the pickguard I see it goes from the bottom of the pickguard to the bottom of the bridge pickup (about 1 inch), although I doubt that the pickup has anything to do with it.

    Does anyone know what this is or have you seen this on your bass? Could this be heat related? How would I best clean this off without marring the finish?
    thanks.
  2. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

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    Years of nicotine?
  3. Batmensch

    Batmensch Supporting Member

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    I don't know. The onmly thing I can think of is sloppily applied shielding paint. Is it dry or sticky? Is the rest of the cavity shielded with black graphite paint? Is it possible to post a pic?
  4. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

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    Years of string funk??

    I'm just guessing, obviously, but with it being such an old bass, look past the obvious. It could be someone once hid a roach in to the pickup cavity and forgot about it, and years of sweat caused a streak.

    Again, just guessing.
  5. Diesel Kilgore

    Diesel Kilgore

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    Could it be sap from the wood coming thru the shielding making it black?
  6. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

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    Either way, try naphtha to clean it.
  7. MEKer

    MEKer Supporting member

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    Take off the PG and look first.
  8. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

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    Probably the pickup height foam breaking down underneath the pickup
  9. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

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    Definitely do this. It may not be serious and may cause unwanted results if you clean it the wrong way.
  10. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

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    This!! I never even thought of this, but you're probably right.
  11. bammill

    bammill

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    Petrus61, that sounds like the most logical answer - breakdown of the pickup foam. Cliff, the cavity is not shielded with paint - just wood as far as I can tell. It is not dry, kinda rubbery. Naptha is safe on the finish, Rip?
  12. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

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    Yeah this happened to an old jazz of mine. I was having trouble adjusting the pups and when I looked underneath, the foam had been reduced to a sludge like you described.
  13. Stone Soup

    Stone Soup

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    That's what I was going to say.
  14. TheAnalogKid

    TheAnalogKid Yer Doin' GREAT!!!! Supporting Member

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    Rip Topaz is correct: Naphtha, or lighter fluid, is OK on shiny poly finishes and your plastic pickguards; it evaporates quickly. It may discolor bare wood. Barring that, IMO, the next best thing is Denatured Alcohol, an old toothbrush and a clean cloth. D-alcohol has NO water and shouldn't stain wood (as far as I know).

    Davey4557 on YouTube has a couple of vids about "cleaning yer guitaaaar".
  15. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

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    Don't use alcohol on nitro. It'll dissolve it. I tried to clean some stand marks on my nitro painted bass and it made the area it touched really cloudy and nasty looking.
  16. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Don't just TalkBass - PlayBass! Supporting Member

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  17. lyla1953

    lyla1953 Supporting Member

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    Yup...if it's black and sticky
  18. Frankjohnson

    Frankjohnson

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    I actually thought maybe it could be something spilled, and got under there.......
    so -
    what was the culprit?
  19. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

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    Without pics it's hard to tell but it's most likely not nicotine. You would smell it if it was dripping off your bass. I'm sticking with foam degradation, as it has happened to me.
  20. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp Supporting Member

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    I suppose the foam is the most likely. The problem reminds me of something a VP at my employer told me many years ago. When he was a kid in the depression he made money fixing Atwater-Kent radios. Evidently he was the only one in his neighborhood who was willing to melt the tar out of the power supply filter can to fix the coils and caps inside. Perhaps in 1974 Fender was potting their pickups with tar?? :D

    Ken

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